Thursday, December 23, 2010

China to give $10b in loans to African countries

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

China is digging its fingers deeper into the African pie. The dragon of the East is consolidating its hold on the continent by providing much needed financial assistance to countries that badly need it. And in return China is likely to have a stake in natural resources from the continent.

In a white paper on Sino-African economic and trade cooperation, released for the first time by China today December 23, 2010, the Chinese government has pledged to give African countries an amount of $10 billion in preferential loans over two years between 2010 and 2012. This amount will be given in addition to the $5 billion of preferential loans and exports buyers' credit that China provided from 2007 to 2009.

According to the paper these loans would be used to finance some major projects such as an airport in Mauritius, housing in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and the Bui Hydropower Project in Ghana.

The paper indicates how the Chinese government views helping African countries to build houses, roads, bridges, railways, telecommunications as very important.

Meanwhile, the total number of infrastructure projects on the continent financed by China exceeded 500 by the end of 2009.

According to China's Ministry of Commerce, in 2000, China-Africa trade totaled $10 billion. It had surged to $106.8 billion by 2008.

The growth slowed down in 2009 due to the global economic downturn. But the trade volume bounced back to $61.2 billion in the first half of 2010, up 65% year on year.

Chinese investment in Africa has increased 46% over the last decade, with most projects focusing on water conservancy, electricity generation, communications and information technology.

For instance in September Ghana signed an agreement with China for a $3 billion loan to develop the country’s energy sector.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How Oando of Nigeria got the world media into ‘lap dog’ mode over Ghana gas sector deal

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Oando Plc is a Nigerian oil and gas firm, which seems to have a very effective public relations (PR) outfit that has succeeded in getting the world’s media into ‘lap dog’ mode by reporting a false press statement it put out on Sunday October 4, 2009.

The media momentarily lost its watchdog stance and lapped every falsehood that Oando crafted in a well organized and purposeful press statement signed by Meka Olowola Head of Oando’s Corporate Communications unit.

As Oando intended it, the world’s media swallowed every word of the statement and gave it the obviously intended meaning. The statement was titled “Ghana selects Oando for $1bn Natural Gas Project.” And as it turned out a good number of media across the world reported that Oando has won a $1 billion deal to develop Ghana’s natural gas infrastructure.

Among the world’s leading media organisations that carried the story was the Reuters. was the first Ghanaian news source to break the story on Monday October 5, 2009.

Indeed, the Nigerian media was far more enthusiastic in reporting the news as the Nigerian Compass Newspaper published the story under the headline “Ghana Petroleum Corporation, Oando seal $1bn gas deal.”

Other Nigerian newspapers like BusinessDay and the Vanguard all carried stories with similar headlines indicating Oando has been awarded a contract.

Almost all the oil and gas sector publications around the world also carried the story which gave the impression that Oando indeed has been awarded a contract to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure.

Unfortunately, however, the Ghana National Petroleum Coporation (GNPC) even though aware of these false impressions kept quiet. GNPC said nothing knowing the information in the media was false, and Oando also kept mute over the false information its press statement has generated around the world.

But a new development in Ghana’s gas infrastructure issue led to exposure of the facts – the facts that the Oando press release sent across a false message. That Oando has not been awarded any deal to develop Ghana’s natural gas infrastructure. got information that the GNPC has awarded a contract to a French oil technology company, Technip to construct deepwater gas pipelines on the Jubilee project. We then contacted GNPC official Mr. Thomas Manu for confirmation of this particular project and he directed us to Mr. Victor Sunu-Attah who is the Project Coordinator for GNPC’s gas infrastructure.

He answered our initial questions and confirmed that yes; indeed, the GNPC has awarded a contract to Technip. We went further to ask how this project awarded to Technip was connected to the $1 billion deal that has been awarded to Oando of Nigeria to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure. Mr. Sunu-Attah then asked, “Who told you we have awarded a deal to Oando to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure?”

We said “Oando did.” He made us understand that there was no such deal. We asked further questions and he told us that Oando was involved in a selection process for the project, but that selection process was inconclusive and added that Oando did not meet the requirements for the project.

Interestingly, after published the story quoting the man in charge of GNPC’s gas infrastructure, Mr. Sunu-Attah, an official of Oando called us from Nigeria and said our story was inaccurate. We insisted it was accurate, and they could send a rejoinder if they thought otherwise.

Before we had received Oando’s rejoinder on a Saturday October 30, 2010 after we had done the story on Wednesday October 27, 2010, copies of the rejoinder have already been sent to other media organisations that published it even though they did not carry the story that Oando was reacting to.

As a matter of fact published the rejoinder and claimed without any evidence that it could confirm as it was told only by Oando’s press statement that the story as reported by was false. The same statement was carried by the Ghana News Agency (GNA), but the only difference with the GNA report was that Ghana Business News was edited out of the content, and any reader would not know what story Oando was referring to.

We want to set the records straight, as well as call on Oando officials to come clean on this. We at since our inception despite our very limited resources have sought to do our very best to get as close as possible as we can in publishing the truth. Oando by its continuous peddling of falsehood had sought to portray as rather publishing falsehood.

Indeed, we at would be one of those who would have celebrated if Oando had indeed won the contract, because as a West African company, that would have been a feather in the cap of Ghana and the sub-region, but unfortunately they do not qualify to do the job as the GNPC has clearly told

Ghana has just found oil, and it appears some individuals and companies might want to take advantage of the country’s perceived inexperience in the oil sector to further their own interests.

Hopefully, would be on the watch for such individuals and companies and do as much as it could to expose them.

Oando must come again.

We publish below for your interest the two press statements that Oando has issued on the matter. The initial statement and the one in response to our story.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The first press statement that generated the first story. October 5, 2009

Ghana selects Oando for $1bn Natural Gas Project

Oando, Nigeria’s leading integrated energy solutions provider announces that it has been selected as a Strategic Partner to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to develop assets and infrastructure to harness the gas that will be produced from the offshore Jubilee oilfield.

The oil field is rated as West Africa’s current largest offshore deepwater discovery in over a decade, with proven reserves in excess of 300 million barrels of recoverable oil and a potential for 1.8 billion barrels.

GNPC had shortlisted companies following a highly competitive bid process involving over fifty reputable local, regional and international corporations. From the initial fifty, five companies made the final selection from which Oando (Lead Developer) and Saipem (a globally renowned Oil & Gas engineering, procurement and construction firm) and Modec-Itochu (a Japanese oil & gas consortium) were chosen to form a joint consortium with GNPC.

The scope of the project includes the development of offshore and onshore high pressure gas transmission pipelines, Processing Facility, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Condensate storage tanks, as well as other ancillary structures. The US$1 billion ultra-modern facility is planned to commence operations in the near future.
The Ghanaian Government has expressed its commitment to develop a world-class infrastructure that will process natural gas as fuel for existing power plants at Effasu and Takoradi both in the Western Region of the country.

The development is also planned to enable the sale of natural gas and derivatives to both domestic and international markets. In a proactive step to eliminate gas flaring from the Jubilee Field, the completion date of the project has been scheduled to coincide with the planned First Oil for Jubilee.

This will form a model for the development of future oil and gas fields in the country.
Commenting, Mr. Bolaji Osunsanya, Chief Executive Officer, Oando Gas & Power, states, “This is a testament of Oando’s high competence in the execution of gas projects and operations.

With 100 km of gas pipeline infrastructure already built in Lagos, another 128 km under construction in the South East of Nigeria and a planned 100 km yearly expansion, this new partnership with GNPC to develop Ghana’s first gas infrastructure, broadens our leadership frontiers in the gas transportation and distribution business within the West African sub-region.”

Also commenting, Mr. Wale Tinubu said, “We are very proud to be part of this historic milestone in Ghana’s oil and gas exploration. The Jubilee oilfield is set to further transform the Ghanaian economy and position the country as a key player in the Gulf of Guinea. The choice of Oando is an affirmation of our track record at project delivery and creates an opportunity for us to extend the success recorded in building Nigeria’s gas distribution pipeline system to other parts of West Africa. This is a fillip toward our drive to become the foremost energy company in sub-Saharan Africa, leveraging our tradition for execution excellence, capacity to undertake technical-intensive ventures and access to long-term financing.”

Oando is Nigeria’s leading integrated energy solutions providers with investments and subsidiaries spanning the energy entire value chain including exploration and production; upstream support; service; gas and power; international supply and trading and downstream.

For more information, please contact:

Meka Olowola

Head, Corporate Communications
Oando Plc
Stallion House, 2 Ajose Adeogun Street
Victoria Island, Lagos
Phone: 01 2625857

Oando’s response to our story exposing the falsehood in their statement. 30 October, 2010

Our attention has been drawn to a publication in the Ghana Business News which quoted Mr. Victor Sunu-Atta, an official of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), as saying GNPC never selected Oando to develop Ghana’s gas infrastructure.

We affirm that this assertion is false as Oando-SAIPEM consortium was duly selected by GNPC as a strategic partner to jointly develop the gas infrastructure project.

This selection was communicated to us via a letter dated 1st September, 2009 and signed by Mr. Thomas Manu, Director of Operations on behalf of the Managing Director of GNPC.
As is typical with a development of this scale, we are currently engaging with parties to ensure an appropriate commercial, technical and transaction structure that best delivers the anticipated value of the investment.

Bolaji Osunsanya, Chief Executive Officer, Oando Gas & Power comments, “Our ability to undertake projects of this magnitude has never been in doubt. Together with our partners, we are currently on the Nigerian Gas Master Plan final shortlist of bidders for the development of the Central Processing Facilities and Strategic Gas Transmission Pipelines.
With in-house capacity developed over the years; partnerships with world class technical and financial organisations; and our strict respect for the sanctity of contracts; we are in a good position to undertake the Jubilee Field Gas Infrastructure development.”

Oando remains firm in its commitment to partner with the Ghanaian Government and the GNPC in developing its energy infrastructure.


For more information, please contact:

Meka Olowola Head, Corporate Communications 2, Ajose Adeogun Street,
Victoria Island,
Lagos, Nigeria

Tel: +234 (1) 2702400 Ext 6376

Fax: +234 (1) 261 1366

DL: 01-2805593

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Murky oil business: China, Ghana put up $5b bid for Kosmos Energy’s Jubilee stake

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Ghana’s oil business is getting murkier and confusing as China’s state-owned oil producer the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Ghana’s state-owned oil producer, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) are reported to have put in a $5 billion bid for Kosmos Energy’s stake in Ghana’s largest oil field, the Jubilee oil field.

Reports in the international media citing a source with knowledge of the deal say the cash bid for Kosmos’s assets and the stake in Jubilee was made about two weeks ago, but talks have seen little progress.

The sale of Texas based oil company, Kosmos Energy's stake in Jubilee has been a long running tale that seems to have no clear end, further sending confusing signals about what to expect as Ghana joins the world’s oil producers soon.

Kosmos first put up its stake in Jubilee for sale in 2009. Despite initial denials of the sale, the company was reported to have secretly opened its data room to its Texas neighbour ExxonMobil much to the consternation of the GNPC which is one of the stakeholders in the field.

Both CNOOC and ExxonMobil had earlier made $4 billion bids for the stake. It was obvious, however, that Kosmos preferred to sell to ExxonMobil while the Ghana government favours a Chinese buy. In response, the Ghana government declined approval of the ExxonMobil deal citing impropriety on the part of Kosmos Energy. Subsequently, Kosmos was subjected to investigations by the Ghana government for its conduct in the deal.

While the investigations were going on, Kosmos Energy issued a vague apology to the Ghana government – it did not say for what exactly.

In the midst of the wrangling, Kosmos Energy announced in March 2010 that it won’t sell any more. The AFP citing an unnamed official of the company reported that Kosmos Energy had rescinded its decision to sell its stake in Ghana’s Jubilee oil field.

According to the report, the official indicated that in the view of Kosmos Energy, the best option now is to stay through the production of oil from the field.

In June 2010, the government of Ghana issued a statement saying it would do‘whatever it takes within the law to protect the national interest at all times,’ in the matter of the sale of Kosmos Energy’s stake in the Jubilee oil field to ExxonMobil. This statement was issued following the completion of investigation and submission of report by the committee set up by government to investigate the Kosmos sale deal.

Even though the government said it was studying the report and would make its official position on the matter known soon, nothing has been heard since.

The latest development then raises several concerns, among which is whether indeed, there is transparency in the oil sector in Ghana and whether the government is indeed in control of the country’s nascent oil industry.

Last week, the US branch of Oxfam International announced that it was gathering 25,000 signatories online across the world to put pressure on President Obama to support tougher oil transparency in Ghana.

Meanwhile, issues of impropriety has already led to the holding of a $225 million political risk insurance for the country’s oil sector. The World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) together with its partners suspended the guarantee contract for the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel that will produce and process oil and gas from the Jubilee offshore oil field in Ghana.

According to MIGA, the parties agreed to this suspension in order to conduct due diligence into the conditions of a service contract between MODEC and Strategic Oil and Gas Resources (Strat Oil).

Not long ago, the Ghana government suspended the signing of a $10 billion housing deal with Korean company, STX Group, because of a clause in the agreement which said Ghana’s yet to be produced oil should be used as collateral for loan for the project.

It appears that Ghanaians must brace themselves for more of such cloudy matters as commercial production of oil is set to begin either in November or December 2010.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Google Adsense now offers Western Union as payment option for Ghana

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Google has announced a new payment system for Adsense publishers in Ghana. It is called Western Union Quick Cash payments.

Publishers are website owners or bloggers who allow Google to put up banners on their sites in a shared-revenue program. And there are about 5000 publishers in Ghana who are part of the programme.

Last week carried a story announcing Google’s plans to introduce a new payments system for Ghana.

Information available to says three other African countries are included in the Western Union payment system – these are Algeria, Kenya and Uganda.

“Western Union Quick Cash payments will reach you faster than checks, and they’re free of charge,” Google reportedly said.

Google also said the payments will reach Adsense subscribers faster than cheques, and at no cost to the subscriber. However, it said payments will be in local currency and will “continue to follow our normal payment schedule.”

It is however, not every subscriber who can choose this payment system. According to Google, Western Union payments can be sent only to publishers who have an individual account “at this time.”

Moreover, the payee name on your account must exactly match the government-issued ID card that can be used to cash the money the day after it has been sent.

Meanwhile, at the time of publishing this report, my Adsense account does not give me the option of selecting this new payment system, even though, I am registered as an individual.

If this new system is fully implemented, it will bring a huge relief to the many Ghanaian publishers of Google Adsense.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Africa Confidential alludes to politics over cancellation of Kosmos, ExxonMobil Jubilee oil field deal

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The West is encouraging democracy, freedom of association and choice but not when it comes to other developing countries’ oil. And in the case of Ghana, both some politicians in the West and the Western media are showing how much interested they are in the country’s nascent oil industry, and so are not interested in Ghanaians making choices for themselves.

The London-based Africa Confidential is the latest to wade into the botched Kosmos Energy-ExxonMobil Jubilee deal, with an article suggesting politics behind the cancellation of the deal.

The two Texas-based oil companies had signed a secret deal in which Kosmos was selling its stake in Ghana’s largest oil field, the Jubilee field, which according to the major stakeholder, Tullow Oil contains 1.5 billion barrels of oil and has 17 wells.

The government of Ghana which is a partner in the field, saw something wrong with the deal and exercised its prerogative by refusing to endorse the secret deal, which it said was in violation of the terms of agreement binding the partners in Jubilee.

But a section of the Western media, particularly, the right-wing American media would have non of it and has been bad-mouthing Ghana for a while now. Surprisingly, the respected African Confidential has joined in the melee to seek to sully Ghana’s hard won international reputation.

Interesting development, it looks like coming in the heels of the controversial Standard and Poor’s downgrading of Ghana’s credit worthiness.

In the August 27, 2010 issue, the publication wrote “The announcement on 17 August by ExxonMobil that it is abandoning its campaign to buy a 23.5% stake in the Jubilee field, Africa’s biggest offshore oil field, is likely to precipitate a bid by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), backed by the China Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), Africa Confidential has learned.

Although some interpret the move as another tactical victory for China against big Western oil companies, ExxonMobil’s problems are due more to Ghana politics than geopolitics.”

The government of Ghana officials have indicated that Kosmos breached the terms of agreement binding stakeholders in the Jubilee field by opening its data room to ExxonMobil. According to these officials, any one member in the partnership who intends to sell its stake must first open its data room to other members of the consortium. It is only when the member or members fail to buy or are unable to buy the stake that an outsider would be invited.

While the issue was still being discussed after the government of Ghana refused to endorse the deal between Kosmos and ExxonMobil, Kosmos reportedly apologized to the Ghana government in March. What Kosmos apologized about is still not known.

Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei, Energy Minister told the Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of an oil conference, “They sat down with the president and said they were sorry.” He did not say what Kosmos was sorry for.

The allusions of Africa Confidential to political reasons is hard to tell, even though the publication dragged in the EO Group and its association with former President Kufuor.

It writes, ExxonMobil’s entreaties to Accra have dragged on since last September, when a top delegation of the company surprised President Atta Mills, then in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, by telling him its company had secured a 23.5% stake of the Jubilee field in secret negotiations with Kosmos.

This infuriated GNPC officials, at loggerheads with Kosmos. Moreover, the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) is deeply suspicious of Kosmos’s local partner, EO Group, which brought the company to Ghana and secured from it a 3.5% stake in the West Cape Three Points block (AC Vol 51 No 15).

EO’s directors, George Owusu and Kwame Bawuah-Edusei, are supporters of the opposition New Patriotic Party and close to former president John Kufuor. They stood to gain $200-300 million if Kosmos was able to sell its stake to ExxonMobil. NDC officials were convinced that a substantial part of this would find its way into the NPP’s campaign coffers before the 2012 elections.

Ghanaian officials call Kosmos’s deal with EO Group ‘the original sin’. They see the association as politically tainted and question why Kosmos was able to secure fiscal terms that were $3.8 bn. better on its West Cape Three Points field in 2004 than the terms secured a year later by its counterpart, Ireland’s Tullow Oil, on Deepwater Tano, an adjacent field of similar prospectivity, it added among other things.

While the a section of the interested parties in the West including sections of the media believe in protecting their parochial interests, the Ghana government has a responsibility to Ghanaians, and must do whatever it takes to protect that interest.

Commercial production of oil is due to begin in November or December this year, and but already it looks like for some interest groups in the West, the stakes are higher!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Will Ghana choose China over ExxonMobil for Kosmos’s Jubilee stake?

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The government of Ghana about a week ago indicated in a press release that it will soon decide on the Kosmos Energy-ExxonMobil Jubilee stake issue that has become thorny over the period.

The government pledged to do ‘whatever it takes within the law to protect the national interest at all times,’ in the matter of the sale of Kosmos Energy’s stake in the Jubilee oil field to ExxonMobil.

And now there are speculations within the global oil industry that the government is likely to settle on the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) against Kosmos’ choice ExxonMobil. Indeed, government officials in the past have indicated their preference for the Chinese who have expressed interest in buying the stake.

At the height of the clamour for the stake, the Chairman of CNOOC, Fu Chengyu for the first time publicly declared in August last year that China was placing a bid for the stake.

Since Kosmos Energy put up for sale its stake in the country’s largest oil field, the Jubilee oil field which is also the largest oil field to be discovered in West Africa in the last 10 to 15 years, the field which according to Tullow Oil has about 1.5 billion barrels of oil and has 17 wells, the sales issue is yet to be resolved.

When news first broke in 2009 that Kosmos was selling its stake, the company denied the reports. The closely held Texas based company kept secret its intentions insisting the stake was not for sale. But it turned out Kosmos had opened its data room to Texas neighbours ExxonMobil much to the consternation of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Ghana’s national oil company, which is one of the stakeholders in the field.

Kosmos Energy offered to sell to ExxonMobil against the terms of the agreement binding the consortium holding stakes in the field, and the government of Ghana did not hide its displeasure with Kosmos’s action.

According to the terms of the agreement, any one member in the consortium who intends to sell its stake must first make the offer to members. It is only when members have no interest in buying or are unable to buy that outsiders would be invited to bid for the stake on sale and Kosmos has been accused of flouting the agreement by secretly making the offer to ExxonMobil.

The government subsequently, halted the deal between the Texan companies. And a section of the American media went on the offensive slamming Ghana and dragging the country’s image into the mud. There were even articles in some US media blaming President Obama for causing the halt.

But the drama must end at some point as the country begins commercial production of oil in November or December barring any other difficulty.

The government set up a committee to look into the matter. The committee has presented its report on which government will take a decision soon, and it could decide for China which has not hidden its interest in Ghana.

Relations between Ghana and China goes over 50 years and the two countries recently celebrated it. In recent times bilateral trade between Ghana and China has grown, recording in excess of $1.6 billion last year.

Chinese businesses in the country have invested in over 400 projects.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

E-waste in Ghana - How many children are dying from lead poisoning?

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

News this week about over hundred people including children dying from lead poisoning in Zamfara State in Nigeria raises lots of concern, and must sound the warning alarm for Ghana in the light of the e-waste dumping that goes on in the country.

According to the BBC some 163 people have died from lead poisoning and there are fears that many more are likely to die. The deaths occurred after local people started digging for gold in areas high in concentrations of lead.

Ghana has been identified as a dumping ground for electronics waste or e-waste from the UK, the USA and other European countries. Evidence uncovered by both local and international media including organizations like the Greenpeace shows that the West’s e-waste is being dumped in Ghana.

E-waste is known to contain a cocktail of poisonous chemicals that are released into the atmosphere and underground water and these chemicals contain substances like lead, mercury and arsenic.

Indeed, apart from e-waste that is brought in from outside the country, e-waste is also generated locally. Most Ghanaians have no idea what to do with their obsolete mobile phones, TV sets, sound systems, refrigerators and computers. Some simply dump these at repair shops and others onto waste dumps.

On a trip around some of Accra’s electronics items shops, one sees large numbers of obviously outmoded and unusable electronics items in store.

Lack of a national policy and or national collection points for such items make local generation of e-waste another source of concern. But what should be more worrying is the news from Nigeria that people are dying from lead poisoning.

It is not known yet if a conclusive study has been carried out in Ghana regarding lead poisoning from e-waste. But information available says some samples have been taken from some young people who work at the Agbogbogbloshie dump dismantling old electronics items and burning the cables to extract the copper for testing.

The Greenpeace had done a lab test of the soil and water at Agbogbloshie from where electronics items are dismantled and the cables put on fire to remove the copper wires. The results of the Greenpeace test showed that the soil in the area contained toxic chemicals at levels a hundred times more than allowable limits.

With these evidences, it is clear that Ghanaians are exposed to a great deal of chemical dangers from e-waste, but it appears there are no proactive efforts to stem the tide before the situation gets out of hand.

If Ghanaians are unaware of the dangers posed to human health and life, the news from Nigeria should be enough to wake the country up to the time bomb we are sitting on as unknown numbers of Ghanaians could be dying from chemical poisoning from e-waste.

In a recent email communication with the UK’s Environment Agency (EA), an official told that they have concluded investigations into allegations that some recycling companies in the UK contracted to recycle e-waste have been dumping these into Ghana. The EA said they have handed the findings to their lawyers.


UK concludes investigation of e-waste dumping in Ghana

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The Environment Agency (EA) of the UK has completed an investigation into the dumping of electronics waste or e-waste into Ghana by some suspected UK recycling companies, has learned.

The investigation was initiated in 2008 following media reports that some recycling companies in the UK were collecting obsolete computers meant for recycling in the UK and dumping them into Ghana.

Following email enquiries by to the EA, an official, Scarlett Elworthy wrote this response, “Our officers have now completed their investigations and their findings are now with lawyers for consideration.”

But checks with Ghanaian government officials show that Ghanaian environment officials do not know about the investigation.

In a telephone interview with the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Ms. Sherry Ayitey, she told that she is not aware of the investigation.

British media reports which led to public outcry and forced the EA to initiate the investigation discovered discarded computers from the National Health Service (NHS), and some universities which were collected by recycling firms for proper disposal dumped in Ghana, at the Agbogbloshie scrap yard in Accra.

The Independent, a UK publication also published a report based on investigations it conducted which revealed that toxic wastes from the UK continue to be dumped in Ghana and Nigeria.

The report said tonnes of toxic waste collected from British municipal dumps are being sent illegally to Africa in flagrant breach of the country’s obligation to ensure its rapidly growing mountain of defunct televisions, computers and gadgets are disposed of safely.

Hundreds of thousands of discarded items, which under British law must be dismantled or recycled by specialist contractors, are being packaged into cargo containers and shipped to countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, where they are stripped of their raw metals by young men and children working on poisoned waste dumps, the report said.

Despite mounting evidence that the UK is a regular source of the e-waste that comes to Africa, particularly Ghana and Nigeria, the UK government admitted in September 2009 that it is unable to stop the practice “because of the exponential surge in volumes of incorrectly classified waste being exported,” according to the Computer Weekly.

Some of the damaged computers found at the Agbogbloshie dump site in Accra had NHS labels on them. Other PCs were found to have been the property of UK councils and universities, including Kent County Council, Southampton County Council, Salford University and Richmond upon Thames College.

It is known that 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated in the world annually and a great amount of that ends up in developing countries including Ghana and Nigeria.

Britain is responsible for around 15 per cent of the EU’s total e-waste, which is growing three times faster than any other municipal waste stream.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Deficit is most dangerous threat to Ghana’s economy – Mahama

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The vice president, John Dramani Mahama says if efforts are not made to deal with the country’s deficit, the country will be sliding down the dangerous path of economic failure of other countries like Greece, warning that the country’s deficit is the most dangerous threat to the economy.

Mahama who was speaking at the event to honour the country’s Most Respected CEO and Company over the weekend said the country has a deficit of over $1.45 billion in the petroleum sector alone.

“The Ministry of Finance has paid $550m out of this,” he said.

According to Mahama, in the non-petroleum sector, the country owes between $700 million and $1 billion.
He said the government was trying to refinance these debts, by making efforts to raise money from a consortium of banks.

In December 2009, the London-based Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) forecast that Ghana’s deficit will narrow to 8.4% in 2010 before the country starts to earn income from oil production due to begin in June 2010. But now the production date has been moved to December.

The EIU in its Country Report on Ghana for 2009 also said Ghana’s economic policy environment will remain challenging in 2010, even though the global economic environment is expected to improve slowly after the recession in 2009.

According to the report the recent decision by the government to accept financial assistance from the IMF and the World Bank is indicative of the challenges that the government sees ahead.

The Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), John Lipsky also urged the country to reduce her budget deficit and remain firmly committed to macroeconomic stabilisation over the next two years to create prospects for investment and accelerated growth.

“Despite recent improvements, the budget deficit is still high,” Mr. Lipsky told a press conference at the end of a two-day official visit to Ghana.

Ghana’s budget deficit is projected to decline to 7.5 per cent of GDP in 2010 from 9.5 per cent.

However, Mr. Lipsky said this must be reduced further if the country was to avoid the risk of using its revenue from oil to fund the deficit instead of investing in productive sectors.

In this direction, he called for strengthening budget implementation to create fiscal space for oil production revenue to be used for poverty reduction programmes.

“Ghana has to create some space by reducing the fiscal demand on the economy,” he added.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scanfuel wipes out settlements, farms for Jatropha plantation in Ghana

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

An ominous cloud of uncertainty gathers around a Jatropha project in Ghana.

A Norwegian company, Scanfuel is operating what is currently noted to be the largest Jatropha plantation in Ghana.

The company through its Ghana subsidiary, Scanfuel Ghana Ltd., has acquired 400,000 hectares of land in the Asante Akim North Municipality of the Ashanti Region to plant Jatropha for the production of biodiesel for export.

But a visit by and the International Correspondent of the European Energy Review to the farms and surrounding villages revealed an enterprise operating with impunity and disregard for local people, their way of life and local laws.

According to the Chief of Efirise, one of the settler farmer communities within the operation area of Scanfuel, Amadu Zakari, the company acquired the land from the paramount chief of Agogo, Nana Akuoku Sarpong. He added that Scanfuel subsequently offered to pay GH¢1 per acre of land to the farmers whose land it was taking over.

According to Zakari, most farmers rejected the offer because the amount was seen as paltry. Scanfuel, however is going ahead with its project, planting and harvesting the Jatropha seeds for processing and expanding by the day.

Local people are worried but scared, as they believe there are powerful hands behind Scanfuel.

Scanfuel uses heavy agric machinery to clear everything in its way including human settlements, crop farms and economic trees.

A walk around the farm revealed Dawadawa and shea trees that have been cut down. The Dawadawa tree serves as an essential food and medicinal plant for the local people. The shea tree, apart from serving as food, also has huge economic potentials for local people. The importance of the shea tree is seen in the government of Ghana’s inclusion of the shea nut in its major development programme for the northern part of the country.

The shea tree once it has survived the first five years of its early stages of germination and growth, grows slowly and takes about 30 years to reach maturity and from here, it can live for up to three hundred years and can bear fruit for two hundred years. It has food, medicinal and export value to local people.

The Municipal Chief Executive of the Asante Akim North Municipal Assembly, Thomas Osei-Bonsu in an interview told that Scanfuel Ghana Ltd., is not registered with the local authority. He indicated that the entrance of Scanfuel into the area was facilitated by deceit.

“The farmers were misinformed at the beginning of the project,” he said. According to him, the farmers were told they were going to be engaged as outgrowers for Scanfuel but were not told they were going to lose their lands, but as it turned out, their arable lands have been taken away from them.

Even as political head of the area, he said “no one knows what compensation Scanfuel paid for acquiring all that land.”

All the fertile lands of the people of Efirise, Dukuse, Bamala, Brentuo, Enso Nyame ye and surrounding villages have been taken over by Scanfuel and the people are left with nothing, but fear, uncertainty and offers of jobs on the plantation at a daily wage of GH¢3.

Some local people have rejected the offer and are waiting in vain to see what will happen. Scanfuel has employed about 200 people who are currently working on the plantation.

“Scanfuel is opening itself up for litigation,” Osei-Bonsu warned.

On occasions when he had called Scanfuel officials to discuss the issues and find a solution, the company has not responded to his calls, but continues to expand, he told

Officials of Scanfuel at the company’s Agogo office declined to talk to journalists when we called on them Monday February 15, 2010.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Ghana biometric passport story

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Uncertainty appears to surround the actual day when the first Ghanaian biometric passport will be issued. But it is certain that by the new global rules regarding types of passports that countries should have, Ghana will introduce its biometric passport this year.

A Ghanaian Times report cited the acting Director, Legal and Consular Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, McArios Akanbeanab Akanbong as saying in May 2009 that Ghana was going to issue its citizens with biometric passports in 2010.

The issuance of the passport is a requirement for the country to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) deadline for member states to provide their nationals with such a document to avoid being denied entry into member countries of ICAO.

According to the report, Mr. Akanbong indicated that without a biometric passport, Ghanaians travelling outside risked being denied entry as their data would not be at the Biometric Centre for immigration officers at international airports to crosscheck their details.

A biometric passport has features like electronic chip into which has been processed, the thumbprint of holders and kept at a biometric centre. It has a holographic foil, watermark paper, invisible and visible foil and digital photographs of holders are used.

In January 2010, the GNA reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will launch the country’s biometric passport on February 3, 2010. The report said in preparation to the launch, Regional Immigration Commanders and Information Service Officers were trained.

The biometric passport is expected to have some benefits to the country. According to Mr Akanbong, these would include elimination of middlemen in the application and acquisition of passports and the avoidance of situations where individuals manipulate the system and acquire multi-passports.

“No middleman can acquire a biometric passport for anyone because with this system, the applicant has to be available for his or her thumbprint to be taken for data and identification purposes before the passport is issued,” he said.

But just when Ghanaians were psyched up for the biometric passport, a Daily Graphic reports put a spanner in the works. The issuance of the biometric passport has been put on hold.

The Daily Graphic reports says the Passports Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration says its plan to begin the issuance of biometric passports to Ghanaians has been put on hold until the heavy backlog of passports applications currently at the office has been cleared.

It has, therefore, set March 23, 2010, as the new date to begin the sale of new forms for the biometric passports.

The period will also be used to replace all hand-written passports being held by Ghanaians abroad with appropriate booklets, the report added.

But while all these were going on, Ghanaians were told not to panic. A Ghanaian Times report citing Madam Bernice Benneh, the Director of Passports said there is no need to panic because “there will be a five-year interface period for the current passports to be phased out.”

She reportedly assured Ghanaian travelers that they will not encounter any difficulties with the introduction of the biometric passports as passports currently in circulation will remain valid until 2015.

Meanwhile, passport forms are unavailable at designated points. The designated points for acquiring passport forms are the post offices and all branches of Ecobank, but forms are unavailable. This development has left many Ghanaians whose passports are expired or are expiring this month in limbo as they have no information on what to do.